Congress Addresses High Drug Costs in Hearing

In a congressional hearing held on Capitol Hill today, the damaging impact of rising insulin prices was the centerpiece of a larger discussion on rising drug costs in the United States.

In a congressional hearing held on Capitol Hill today, the damaging impact of rising insulin prices was the centerpiece of a larger discussion on rising drug costs in the United States.

The Senate Finance Committee hearing, held by Chairman Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, was the first of a series of hearings that will focus on drug pricing.

Kathy Sego, who is the mother of a child with insulin-dependent diabetes; Douglas Holtz-Eakin, PhD, who is president of the American Action Forum; Mark E. Miller, PhD, who is vice president of health care at Laura and John Arnold Foundation; and Peter B. Bach, MD, MAPP, who is director of Memorial Sloan Kettering Center for Health Policy and Outcomes all were part of the discussion.

“I have heard stories about people reducing their life-saving medicines, like insulin, to save money,” Grassley said in his opening remarks. “This is unacceptable and I intend to specifically get to the bottom of the insulin price problem.”

Sego, of Madison, Indiana, told the panel how her son became seriously ill after rationing his insulin to save money, a story that is not uncommon among those who experience difficulty affording their medications.

Insulin affordability has become a serious public health problem. A recently issued report by the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) showed dramatic increases in patient spend on insulin. According to the report, spending on insulin per patient nearly doubled between 2012 and 2016 in the United States, which the researchers determined was largely driven by price hikes.

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